Friday, February 4, 2011

"Counter Plot"

Hi everyone, the Historian here, with our next episode in this increasingly long Dalek epic. Joining me this week was a full house: Ketina, Ronelyn, Spoo, MiniSpoo, MisterMother, Photobug and Cz. This week we had actual moving pictures, thanks to the somewhat miraculous survival of this episode. Let's get to the summary!

Episode summary: First aired 11 December 1965. Borkar looks into the room and is shocked to see Bret Vyon, who he recognizes, dead on the floor. "Yes, he's dead." affirms Sara with no emotion. "The others must be killed as well. They will be shot on sight." As Borker leaves, she calls after him, remembering that one of them must hold the Taranium, "But aim for the head..!"

Steven and the Doctor run down the corridor, stopping in front of a closed door. The Doctor asks Steven where Bret is. Steven answers that he must be right behind them, "probably dealing with that girl." "Oh, most irritating man!" says the Doctor, pressing a switch that opens the door. He and Steven enter.

The room they enter is strangely lit and seems to be made up of intersecting panels. In the middle of the room, the Doctor finds what looks like an experimental device. There is what could be a transmitter on top that emits a pulsing signal and two white mice are in a small compartment. "Funny sort of cage," Steven muses, then turns towards the door, hoping Bret finds them. The Doctor suggests Steven stand by the door and listen for movement while he examines the equipment.

In a control room elsewhere in the Experimental Plant, two scientists (younger Froyn and older, kind of doddering Rhynmal) are preparing to trigger an experiment elsewhere. Rhynmal notes a strange change in the prepared pressure, as if a door had been opened...Suddenly, Borkar, followed by a bald, silent Technic, burst in. Borkar demands to know if the scientists have seen two strangers, but Froyn demands he get out. They leave. Rhynmal says the pressure has equalized, all normal and Froyn begins to proceed with the experiment...

Back in the room, Steven thinks he hears something. And, indeed, outside Sara Kingdom has sidled up to the door, gun drawn. She slides open the door and demands that the Doctor and Steven stay where they are. At the other end of the corridor, this is observed by a Techic, who runs off to get help. Sara closes the door behind her and demands that the "traitors" hand over the Taranium. The Doctor tries to speak, but Sara refuses to listen. But then--the room is filled with a bright light and a horrible, whining sound! Sara, Steven and the Doctor's faces erupt in immense pain...

Borkar and the Technic run up to the closed door and demand entrance, but there is no answer...

Back in the control room, Froym and Rhynmal check their instruments. Everything seems to have gone perfectly...until Rhynmal notes with some unhappiness that someone has opened the door in the experimental room. The two scientists run out of the control room...

...And into the experimental room, where they find a very confused Borkar and his Technic companion. Froyn tells Borkar that they had been conducting an experiment in molecular dissemination, which looks like it's gone perfectly--the mice and equipment are gone. "But there were three people in here - where are they?" asks Borkar.

Steven and Sara seem to be travelling through some kind of strange vortex...the mice's box travels with them through space....

Back in the experimental room, Rhynmal is horrified. There were only mice, he says. Borkar demands that the scientists get the people back at once, but Froyn explains, "Anyone or anything that was in this room at the time of the now being transmitted through space." "Yes, my friend," adds Rhynmal. "They're many light years from Earth by now. Moving towards a strange planet, in a strange galaxy - the nature of which we can only guess at..."

The strange journey ends...and on the far off planet Mira, strange pools of liquid bubble in a landscape filled with foggy jungles...

On Kembel, the Dalek Supreme orders contact be made with Mavic Chen and a report demanded. He should have the Taranium by now.

In the control room, Karlton is interrogating Froyn and Rhynmal. Once the instruments "reform" on Mira, they should begin transmitting. As for why they chose such a distant planet, the whole point of the experiment was the distance; they'd already used cellular fragmentation to send objects over short distances. Karlton asks whether the people will be transported safely and Froyn admits he doesn't know. Why didn't you stop when the Security men came in? It was too late, is the answer, one Karlton doesn't like. He turns to Borkar and demands to know why the Security guard didn't stop things; he doesn't like the (perfectly reasonable) answer he gets here either. Before leaving, he tells the scientists to inform him the moment some signal is received from Mira. Just after the Security men leave, a signal begins to come through...

In the jungle on Mira, the slightly damaged equipment (with mice intact) begins to emit a regular beep...

And in the experiment room, Mavic Chen, clearly under considerable stress, waits. Karlton enters and informs his superior that the mice arrived safely. Chen responds that live mice mean nothing--doesn't Karlton realize that the Daleks could assemble a force to conquer them any time? When Karlton tries to calm him down, Chen frets about still not having the Taranium; the Daleks expect him back with it by now. But Karlton has a plan: tell the Daleks that the fugitives were trapped in the cellular projector and sent to Mira (which is closer to Kembel) on purpose, as they were attracting too much attention on Earth. Chen likes this idea, do they know the Taranium wasn't destroyed in transit? Karlton suddenly snaps at him, telling him to stop worrying--without them, the Daleks will never get Taranium! Chen seems to snap out of it, striding around again and saying that without him, the Dalek plan is nothing! He throws his arms wide and says, "When I am next to the Daleks, only they stand between me and the highest position in the universe! Then will be the time for me to take complete control!" Karlton simply stares at him. "You are a fortunate man, Karlton. You will have a high place in galactic history," Chen tells his Security chief, then strides from the room. After he is gone, Karlton quietly adds, "The to you..."

In the jungle, the Doctor wakes. He slowly gets up and hurridly checks his pocket--the Taranium is still there! He breathes a sigh of relief and then looks around. "The mice couldn't have done that!" he says with a chuckle and moves off to look around. Elsewhere, Sara lies unconscious. A low growl is heard next to her and it looks as if her arm is raised by...something...and then dropped. The growling stops. Steven is lying nearby and wakes. He goes over to the still sleeping Sara and takes her gun. He slaps her lightly to try and wake her, but it's no good. The Doctor has found the mice device and is delighted. Hearing a nearby noise, he moves off to find Steven.

Elsewhere in the jungle, we see footprints being made by...nothing. The inhabitants of Mira are...invisible?

The Doctor and Steven are reunited as Sara begins to awaken. Immediately, the Doctor tells her to pull herself together; there are answers he must have. He sends Steven off to find a place to hide while he takes a protesting Sara, who still sees them as "traitors," by the arm and leads her away.

On Kembel, the Supreme receives a report that the Dalek pursuit ship has landed on Mira. It orders that a report be made immediately when the fugitives are located.

On Mira, Steven has found a small cave to shelter in. Sara is none too happy about being disarmed and, apparently, captured by these two. She asks where they are, and the Doctor admits he has no idea. He does know how they got there, though: cellular dissemination. That "means our bodies were broken up by some process or other, shot through into the fourth dimension and at a given point reassembled again on this planet." Both of his companions are incredulous, but the Doctor assures them it's possible. He tells them that the transmitter is sending a signal to Earth, which means Mavic Chen will know where they are...and so will the Daleks.

Indeed, in another part of the jungle, a Dalek patrol is moving. One of the two has a device that detects life signs. Using it, they discover the transmitter and the mice. Believing it could be sending signals to the fugitives, the Daleks destroy it--destroying the poor, innocent mice in the process! Detecting other life, the Daleks note that leaves seem to move on their own. They fire and hear howling. The Daleks infer that the inhabitants are invisible and move on, ready to fire at anything that moves.

Back on Earth, Froyn is disturbed by the sudden cessation of signals from Mira. Karlton asks if it could be a technical fault, but Froyn says no. Rhynmal wonders if the "criminals" could have damaged the equipment. Karlton asks if there are any indigenous inhabitants on Mira, but Froyn says that probes have never "shown" any. Rhynmal wonders whether they should send more mice, but Karlton forbids them to send anything more to Mira and not to talk about the planet to anyone.

The Doctor is alone in a clearing. Suddenly, he hears a noise and begins using a stick to beat (apparently) the air. There is a howling as he obviously drives something back. "I might have known it - Visians! The planet Mira!"

In the cave, Steven and Sara are arguing, Steven angry to find that she killed Bret. Sara, on the other hand, counters that Bret and the others were traitors, who stole the Taranium, which was "needed desperately to spread the peace which was advanced in the solar system, to reach the whole galaxy." But when Steven asks her how it could do that, she admits she doesn't know--she just had her orders. Steven is disgusted. Their argument grows more heated, as Sara begins to emotionally crumble. The Doctor and Steven's story mustn't be true...But it is, says the Doctor, returning. It is all too much for Sara. "Bret Vyon was my brother!" she cries, and runs out of the cave. Steven starts to follow, but the Doctor stops him. "Leave her, my boy," he says. "There's nothing we can do. She finally believes us." Suddenly, Sara runs back into the cave. "Something...touched me!" she says. The Doctor tells his companions that they are on the planet Mira, inhabited by the invisible, vicious Visians. They must leave here as soon as they can. How? asks Sarah. I don't know yet, admits the Doctor. Steven goes outside the cave and calls to the others. There is movement all over outside the cave--they're trapped!

Back in Chen's office, he and Karlton are in conference. Karlton estimates that the Daleks must have reached Mira. Chen replies that he must go to Kembel. It looks like the Daleks believed Chen's (actually, of course, Karlton's) story, so he must be there when the Taranium is recovered. If it is, replies Karlton. Chen turns to his security chief. "Wait till you hear from me, then take your party to Venus. Whatever happens we shall outwit the Daleks! We should be able to destroy Kembel, with help from the rest of the solar system." "But that will only mean mastery of this galaxy," says Karlton. Mavic Chen looks skyward. "But a start, Karlton, a start..."

In front of the cave, the Doctor, Sara and Steven can hear that the Visians are coming closer...The Doctor reminds Steven to aim high--Visians are eight feet tall! The friends prepare to sell their lives dearly...when a shot strikes a Visian from behind! "You're right Doctor, they've come," says Sara, as the Daleks glide into the clearing and surround our friends in front of the cave. "You are surrounded," says the Dalek. "You will come with us." The Doctor, bowing to the inevitable, tells his friends, "I'm afraid, my friends, the Daleks have won...."


Back to Ketina's Paraphrased Transcripts! (Cz handed things back this week)

H: Historian
K: Ketina
R: Ronelyn
S: Spoo
MS: MiniSpoo
M: MisterMother
P: Photobug
C: Cz

H: So, Spoo, is Karlton still your favorite Doctor Who character of all time?

S: Well, film moves at 24 frames per second. So he was 24 times funnier this week.

K: He had no eyebrows!

H: He was COMPLETELY bald!

R: He didn't shave, he sanded.

S: He and Mavic... oh god. It was one bit chew-off of the scenery

M: Probably seemed why Mavic Chen was so lost, because Karlton had eaten all of the scenery.

H: One minute Mavic's plan is to rule the universe beside the Daleks and Karlton's plan is to overthrow Chen. And then the next minute he's all take your people to Venus and I will rule the galaxy, and we'll get to the Universe later. When was the moment that he dialed it down a notch?

M: When he realized that he was nuts after completing the trippy speech. It was like he realized that he completely lost it.

H: But

M: Wait, better plan, let's take out the Daleks and just rule the Galaxy.

P: Well, if I can't be ruler of the Universe, I'll just take this galaxy.

H: But when did he decide he couldn't rule the Universe?

R: A good executive should realize Scope Creep.

K: My favorite bit, “oh we're in pain” during the “disseminator” scene.

H: That whole sequence was one of the things that Kubrick thought was amazing when making 2001. [Refer to last week for the scoop on this comment. --H]

M: And I'm sure Kubrick borrowed whatever drugs Chen was on when filming it.

R: I thought in that moment, wow, the Doctor, man of science, has just walked into a giant microwave chamber with mice in it, and didn't say “I think we should run, my dear boy!”



H: My mice! Oh no! I must send them...

All: More mice!

H: So, Sara Kingdom... what do you think?

S: Take away her gun, and she turns into a wilting flower.

M: How about realizing that she killed her own brother?

S: But ruthless, and then completely filled with ruth.

H: Two points. I agree with M that it probably is her realizing what she had done with killing Bret for a lie...

S: Really?

M: You're expecting characters to be so one dimensional, that when they are more than that your head explodes.

S: Fair point.

H: My other point, when she wakes up and the Doctor stands up and starts walking with her, she obeys instructions implicitly from authority figures.

P: Here she is holding a gun to them, clearly a warrior, and now she's not doing anything about the guy holding the gun on her. Okay, when they actually find the Daleks she then knows they were telling the truth, but up until then it was unrealistic.

M: But it was very much a “Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore” moment for her.

S: Cause there certainly are enough friends of Dorothy in the episode.

M: Everyone is a 3-letter word for “happy” like in the “Forever War.” [Please note, JOKE. --H]

H: The idea of her being “what what?” and then obeying orders made sense to me. On a related note, different jungle planet.

S: I liked the sounds. The aliens were this deep based howl that was good.

M: The Terry Nation predictably planet they know nothing about... except it's a jungle world...

P: The suspense was killing me. When would we see a jungle?

H: The funny thing is that Nation wrote a huge variety of stuff in the 60s and 70s...but his Doctor Who all had similar tropes. I liked that the Doctor encountered one of the things and then knew exactly where they are.

S: Convenient that he knew that, however.

M: Would have been convenient is if they got sent back to Kembel, right next to the TARDIS. They have to get back there eventually.

H: MiniSpoo, did you like the episode?

MS: I liked everything.

H: And you're not just saying that to make me happy?

MS: No, I liked everything.

P: I was pretty impressed by the Daleks. I also liked the greenish hue the Visian's gave off...

H: ?

P: sucker...

R: There were a lot of reaction shots of Mavic Chen going “oh, my makeup's hot!” and then back to Karlton going “I am a turtle” and then back to Chen “I really want this makeup off soon.” And all the shots of the Daleks killing invisible guys.

H: It was only two shots.

M: We had to have some action.

K: There was NO action. They were killing INVISIBLE guys!

M: It was the suggestion of action. And very different from the last episode when this week the body count consisted of two mice.

K: And some invisible guys.

M: Maybe. We don't know for sure. They could have missed.

R: Benji Mouse to base.. Benji Mouse to base.. tell my wife I... gack

H: Last words?

S: Not especially. I think we've said everything we have to say about Karlton, anyway.

M: Nah... but Happy Year of the Rabbit, Doc!

H: So, nothing about the episode?

M: Sorry, no.

P: Very nice to see the plot moving. Nice to see the people moving. It's nice to have a change in both. This guy [Chen?] truly is a megalomaniac. It will be nice to see it coming to him.

S: See what's coming to Mavic Chen? Acting lessons? Sensitivity training?

C: What is the little finger gesture thing? What is that?

H: I don't know.

K: The “Doctor Evil” thing?

MS: I'm kinda surprised that the Doctor actually said that the Daleks won. They could just shoot them with their guns.

R: Tune in next when the Doctor and his companions find themselves in a large town where all the people are made out of cardboard, and they're all pointing to a huge egg shaped object sitting out a gantry, and the Doctor says, “I wonder what that could be?” [Apparently, Ronelyn is still bitter about the whole "man of science wanders into an obviously experimental area" thing.]

P: There really wasn't much in the way of music this episode.

C: It was nice.

P: It was noticeable in it's absence. There was music in the trans-mat scene, but that was about it.

K: So, the Doctor had a moment, thankfully a short one, during the “oh, oh, we're in so much pain scene”...

P: Yeah, I think that was his single goof of the night.

K: Yet, in the transportation scene, when they're flying through space on a trampoline, there was no Doctor.

H: I would say that's because William Hartnell would say “A trampoline, no way!”

K: Anyway, I thought it may have also been because of his horrible acting in the pain scene, that they didn't want to repeat the bad faces from him in the transport scene.

M: Steven is the sensible one, and he's the one that took the gun away before Sara woke up. And the Doctor complemented him on that. I liked that.

K: I like seeing Steven step up more.

P: I have sort of not remember the previous shows as reconstructions. I've stepped into the story more, and forgetting that most of it has been a recon.

H: That's saying something about the quality of the story.

P: And the quality of the recons.

H: Something that we didn't mention, Jean Marsh as Sara Kingdom, when she moves her arm and let it fall as though something picked up her arm.

P: OH! I didn't get that.

H: Yeah, I thought that was good muscle control. That was supposed to be the Visian picking up her arm and looking at it and dropping it.

P: It was probably going “what's that, it's visible!”

H: Yeah. I was really impressed by that.

K: And here I thought it was bad acting...

H: It helped that I knew the story ahead of the time, and knew there were going to be invisible creatures. You can't fault the ambition of the story, more so than any story so far.

P: I thought the conversation with the technician was way out of place.

H: Why?

P: If the state police comes in during the middle of your experiment, you don't just get to yell at them to get out.

H: They do that a lot in Doctor Who.

P: No door locks? No safety standards? No OSHA?

H: I guess not.

H: Anyway, I didn't think it was as strong as last week. But it did a good job at getting the Doctor, Steven, and Sara Kingdom together on the new planet.

K: This reminds me of The Chase.

H: A little bit.

K: And Keys of Marinus.

H: Funny that. Both also written by Terry Nation.

P: Is Terry's middle name swamp?

H: He's written a HUGE variety of stuff. It just seems to be Doctor Who that has a lot of jungle planets.

K: Maybe they just wanted to reuse sets.

H: Well, they all looked great and had fantastic sound design.


And there's where things kind of petered out for the week. Speaking of which, let me apologize for the incredible lateness of the post, which is entirely my fault. It mainly centers around the writing of the summary which seems to feel like more and more of a chore. Hopefully you're all reading and enjoying them!

Anyway! Next week, back to recons! Until then, I remain



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